Are you using hand sanitizer correctly?
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, experts have continually stressed that frequently washing your hands with soap and water is one of the best and easiest ways to help prevent a COVID-19 infection. But with more and more Americans finding themselves outside the safety of their homes as coronavirus-induced restrictions are gradually eased across the nation, hand sanitizer could prove to be useful, especially when out and about.
In fact, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol is one of the three essential items the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends having on hand when venturing out.
What’s more, researchers in a new study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the CDC, found that using hand sanitizer for at least 30 seconds can effectively deactivate the novel coronavirus. The study was based on hand sanitizers recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), or those that contain either 80 percent ethanol or 75 percent isopropyl alcohol.
But hand sanitizer won’t do you much good if you don’t use it correctly.
Indeed: “One caveat of this study is the defined inactivation time of exactly 30 [seconds], which is the time recommended but not routinely performed in practice,” the researchers wrote.
“Our findings are crucial to minimize viral transmission and maximize virus inactivation in the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak,” they added.
To use hand sanitizer correctly, the CDC recommends applying the gel to the palm of one hand, then rub your hands together while ensuring that the gel covers the surface of your hands and fingers until the gel is dry. Doing this for 30 seconds is the best way to get rid of germs, per the study’s findings.
It’s important to note that hand sanitizer does not rid of all germs, and “may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy,” per the federal agency. Additionally, “hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals,” it added.
In other words, handwashing with soap and water should be your go-to, when possible.